Flu Fighters

I'm assembling my arsenal!

[caption id="attachment_2336" align="aligncenter" width="300"]And in this corner... And in this corner...[/caption]

After my last post decrying the effectiveness of the flu shot, I though I'd post about what we do use to keep our immune systems healthy - or at least as healthy as possible.

Probiotics are reportedly a big immune booster.
"Surprisingly, one of the main functions of healthful bacteria is to stimulate immune response.

By eating probiotic-rich foods and maintaining good intestinal flora, a person can also help to maintain a healthy immune system.
And that has real world effects: for example, in one small study of students, those who were given a fermented dairy drink (instead of milk) displayed increased production from lymphocytes -- a marker of immune response."

Because of our various health issues, I use homemade probiotics such as the huge jug of Kombucha, as well as store-bought. We've used Bio-kult in the past, but I've decided to switch things up so we've just bought some Metagenics from our Chiropractor. Both brands come highly recommended. They aren't cheap, but cheap probiotics are often ineffective so it's basically a waste of money. Homemade probiotics are the cheapest and if you don't have lots of issues they make for great, inexpensive immune boosters. Almost every culture in the world consumes fermented foods (or at least they did traditionally). Sauerkraut, kimchi, cortido, yogurt, kefir, and on and on. And no, "fermented" is NOT the same as "moldy" or "rotten."

JuicePlus is another part of our health regime. Over the years I've learned a lot about the importance of whole-food vitamins vs synthetic. One of the things that I like about JP is that kid's vitamin gummies are free with each adult purchase. So, each boy gets JP gummies. I did just recently read an intriguing article about using specific herbal teas as a way to fill in nutritional gaps instead of vitamins. Looking into that further is on my to-do list! Eating a healthy diet is still your best bet, but whole-food vitamins can help fill in the gaps.

Next up is cod liver oil (not pictured because I forgot). Some of the benefits here. It was also recommended to me by a doctor to take vitamin D3 drops. I've been taking them for a  couple years, but when this bottle is done I think I'll just stick with Cod Liver Oil. The more research that's done on vitamin D, the more we find out how much dependent it is on other vitamins such as A, K1 and K2. A product like cod liver oil already has those other vitamins in it (and more!)because it's closer to being a whole food. P.S. There's a TON of controversy right now on the risks/benefits of fermented cod liver oil. We don't take it because I don't feel like I really know what the deal is and it's hella expensive.

This brings us to essential oils. I could do a whole post or two or three about essential oils, but I'll refrain. Read the link above for a good, overall view of essential oils. Personally, I use them with caution. I don't think they are a cure-all. I do believe they work. Some say they are a joke. Some believe they work but dump them on everything or even take them orally. I believe they work and are potent. I don't feel right about consuming them, am careful about which ones I'll put on my boys, and don't use them frivolously because it requires a TON of plant material for even small amounts of oil.

Having said all of that, I like to diffuse Thieves or Guardian when someone is sick in our home. I use Lavender to help Gabe and myself sleep. And I will sometimes diffuse or apply a mixture of lavender, peppermint, and lemon when someone is having trouble breathing (cold or allergies). It really helps.

I found a recipe for homemade hand purifier. I am not a germaphobe, but it's nice to have something available for when we're forced to use park bathrooms, etc. I've heard so many mixed things about regular hand sanitizer. Some report that it doesn't work at all, some say that it works so well that it kills off the good bacteria along with the bad. Considering how hard I work to keep good bacteria in our body (see probiotics paragraph above) it just makes sense to eliminate anything that would set us back in this area.

I found the green squeeze tube here. The recipe was super easy to make and smells good. The tube is easy to fill and clean and hasn't leaked at all.

And last, but not least, is my latest experiment, elderberry syrup. The ladies in my holistic moms group rave about this stuff for warding off colds and flu, but it can be expensive unless you make it yourself. Last year I just could not get up the gumption to research it, order the berries, etc. So I didn't.

This year I was determined to give it a try. I ordered 8 oz of the berries and made the syrup last night. The amount I ordered is enough to do at least two batches, if not three, and the serving size is small. It's super easy to make, smells awesome, and tastes like Christmas.

So far, we've had two colds! Well, I had a cold last week. Luke came home from Scout camp and brought a cold with him that he was kind enough to share with his little brother. Knowing us, we won't be cold free this winter, but I hope we can ward off the worst of it and speed up our healing time. I have to say, knock on wood, that I haven't had to give the boys any cold medicine this time around! So it has been a really mild cold. Will this trend continue? Is it just a fluke? I guess time will tell! :)

When it comes to fighting off all of the yuckies out there, our diet is still our number one defense. We continue to eat well and avoid foods that are triggers. Sleep and rest are big priorities (and attainable thanks to homeschooling!). Our goal is to do what we can to be as healthy as possible and make it easy for our immune systems to function well.


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